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View From The Faculty Lounge

 “[T] he events that subsequently erupt onto the surface and shake the world, such as wars, terrorist attacks, or even natural disasters, have some kind of analogy or even augury in people’s inner world and are presaged long in advance by changes in the spiritual lives of many individuals and the ‘mood of the times.’” — Tomas Halik.

A reader blogging as “Anonymous Professor,” but whose real name I know (and yes, he really is a scientist working a major research university) writes:

There is an asymmetry in the cultural hegemony that left of center types enjoy. Universities, civil service, the arts, the media, and increasingly tech are no-go zones for religious/political conservatives.

When I was a new post-doc 15 years ago, I took a job at an institute. At an introductory lunch, a few of the old timers started ranting about politics…the recent director of the institute made a comment along the lines of “that’s why I would never hire a republican (this was during the run up to the Kerry/Bush election). Fast forward two years, and I take a job at an R1-university in a science department. Politics never come up in the interview. Shortly after being hired, I go to lunch with a few of my new colleagues. One of them invites me to a political event for the Democratic Party…another colleague kiddingly chided him about assuming I was a democrat to which he replied along the lines, “Of course he is, he can think can’t he….” At a teaching workshop on how to deal with course disruptions and difficult students, jokingly asked what we would do if we had a Southern Baptist student in our course… At a professional society meeting, after a presentation on confronting ID and other forms of creationism, one of my colleagues remarked that he wished we were more like China who know how to keep that kind of nonsense away from the gullible (hardy har har…).

I have witnessed lots of these kind of eye-rolling comments as a religiously and politically conservative scientist in an R1 institution. I have never experienced overt discrimination… I was promoted early, given great service and teaching assignments, and generally have a pretty positive interaction with my colleagues. But I also know that when the conversation at lunch turns to religion or politics I had better bite my tongue. A few close colleagues know a bit about my religious activity and political commitments, and they are more or less met with wry amusement. But they have also warned me about letting word get out too far. I keep a low online profile for fear of being blackballed on proposals and possibility losing access to collaborators, but I don’t find that too problematic. I generally don’t want to know about the personal life of my colleagues.

All that being said, I’ve noticed a significant shift since the last election. The republican/conservative bashing has shifted from what I would have considered a more or less good natured ribbing or cluelessness to something more aggressive. One colleague wanted to confirm that I didn’t vote for Trump – he wasn’t sure how he could work with someone who did. Another noted how she was checking Facebook and Instagram to make sure she didn’t take on any students who were Trump supporters. At a conference, one colleague was commiserating with another about how life was going on their blue island in a sea of red… she went on a tirade about how one of her kid’s friends had Trump supporting parents (obviously, she won’t be at any more play dates). There really is no neutral ground or room for tolerance. To hear my colleague, opposing Trump and his supporters is akin to fighting the Nazis.

Social media is about information gathering… it is doing a great job of separating us into tribes and making us fearful of one another. Left of center allies hold virtually all of the cultural power (Hollywood, TV, mainstream news media, academia, HR, educational leadership, mainline religious denominations, and much of corporate governance). The right represents about half of the country – the entrepreneurs, developers, farmers/ranchers, mineral extraction, and military. Increasingly, how we shop, what we drive, where we live, what we read, what we watch, etc… is defined by our political allegiance. The lack of common apolitical space makes it difficult for us to fully appreciate the full humanity of people with whom we disagree.

People who support abortion rights are baby killers. People who oppose abortion rights want to take us back to the Middle Ages.

change_me

People who support foreign intervention are profiteering, warmongering chicken hawks. People who oppose foreign intervention are anti-Americans.

People who think that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples because of the message that sends about the importance of the stability of these relationships for bearing children are homophobes. People who think that marriage should be extended to ss couples in order to bring stability to these relationships are bent on undermining civilization.

To be sure, you can find extreme voices on left and right for all of these positions. The problem is that we have been playing this schtick for so long that we have normalized those voices. Elections long ago ceased to be about what a politican would fight for rather than what he would fight against. Voting became defensive.

This has been going on for a long time, but social media has changed the landscape and eliminated neutral, common spaces for us to come together. How long can two groups of people coexist as one nation when they have virtually nothing in common except language? I have no idea… I think we underestimate our ability to just muddle though. On the other hand, the vitriol from some of my colleagues makes me more pessimistic about our future.

Whatever the case, there is no question that our culture is not at all conducive to traditionalist religious belief. To pass our faith on to our children and grow in our faith ourselves, we will have to build networks of mutual support. This has been true for a very long time in the US. The modernists routed the traditionalists 100 years ago. We’ve been in exile sense. The neo-evangelical tidal wave from roughly WWII to around 2000 made it look like we really could engage with mainstream culture. But we were wrong. Our lot in this nation is exile. We should embrace that and look at ways to strengthen what we do. The culture is getting more corrosive to traditionalist faith, not less. Those that persevere will be doing something like a Benedict Option. Given the vitriol being expressed towards traditionalists, I believe we are going to see that those who do this will face a pretty heavy price. Certain career paths will be closed, many of our co-religionists will be harassed, but most difficult will be the empty promises of the peace that will come from compromise and the enticement of material advancement that comes with it. We have not been preparing ourselves to resist this allure and it will ensnare a lot of Christians.

UPDATE: Amazing comment by reader Axxr:

I’ve posted here on and off, but I’ll say that I am a former professor that taught for years at a major private university on the east coast and has a Ph.D. from a similar institution.

I was a life-long self-described leftist until perhaps decade ago, when I began to feel uncomfortable with the “all things as praxis” positions of fellow faculty, and the ways in which this crept into teaching, research, and community engagement.

I no longer consider myself a leftist, nor do I consider myself a conservative convert. Instead, I consider myself (in keeping with your recent posts, Rod) a citizen in exile in a land in which citizenship has been banned.

I left my post and academics in general several years ago now. This was not about political positions or about persecution that I experienced for them, but rather about a principled discomfort and disillusionment with trends in the academic world in general. I had begun to have experiences in peer review, accreditation review, and faculty collaboration in which it was clear to me that empiricism was dead and what mattered were relative ideological positions and posturing.

I saw the increasingly taken-for-granted “all life as praxis” presumption (read: research ought to be political activism; teaching ought to be political activism; mentorship ought to be political activism; scholarship ought to be political activism; parenthood ought to be political activism; etc.) to be a betrayal of the best traditions both of the Humboldtian university and of the institutions that preceded it in western history.

Now I work in a small company in the broader economy doing something quite divorced from my academic background and previous work. I have no party to vote for and am generally allergic to “activism” in all its forms.

I regret that the “activist” has overtaken the “citizen” as the basic unit of public membership in virtually every sphere, and I think that this will ultimately lead us to civilizational ruin, as societies function only when they are solidary, deliberative, cooperative, and voluntaristic things, and activism runs precisely counter to all of these.

Most importantly, I see along with the collapse of trust in our institutions a collapse of collective identity and narrative memory on every front and at every level. What is a university? What is a corporation? What is a family? What is a church? What is the nature of our civilization?

It’s not even that there are disagreements about these things any longer so much as that on both sides these questions are considered wrongheaded for differing ideological reasons, particularly amongst elites. But if we cannot answer them, then none of these things will remain.

And if we lose these things and replace them with nothing in particular, then we are left with what Deneen writes about. But Deneen didn’t go far enough; it’s not individual and state, as the state is also increasingly discredited and seen to be ideological false consciousness as a “theoretical” matter, particularly in fields that ought to be concerned precisely with society and statecraft. No, it’s individual and disembodied, ascendant, ever-emergent power, undefined, without telos, without geography, without identity, and without any particular purpose.

Life as will to power, bare and barren.

The universities, such as they are (the term is nearly empty these days, meaning everything and nothing at once) are full participants in, and embracers of, this state of affairs. The purpose of existence (and of academics, and of religion, and of politics, etc.) is negation and ascendance for their own sakes. Nihilism as dogma.

My conscience gave me pangs for several years, and then suddenly I couldn’t do it any longer. Some former colleagues have imagined that I was a closeted conservative that secretly seethed. The truth is harder for all but a couple of them to understand—I was a closeted empiricist and mere citizen, rather than an activist in a place that could make neither heads nor tails of either empiricism or citizenship, which any longer increasingly lie beyond the professoriate’s imagination beyond a few enclaves in STEM, not to mention being beyond the imaginations of those in the administrative class.

In other terms, I felt complicit in something terrible and nihilistic, and—seeing no particular way to further participate in good faith without reifying precisely that which troubled me, and living life as a parent as well—I dropped finally dropped out and left the sphere of “elites” behind to tend my own garden. I am buoyed by the appearance of movements like Heterodox Academy, but they are not sufficient to entice me to want to participate once again.

I don’t know if there are others like me, but I suspect that there must be at least a few.

35 Comments (Open | Close)

35 Comments To "View From The Faculty Lounge"

#1 Comment By Thaomas On March 6, 2018 @ 1:51 pm

Good questions. My approach is to show that I am pro-life in the seamless garment sense, for regulation of some gun for some people while respecting those who need them for self defense, I favor tax changes that promote economic growth but not by transferring income from middle to rich, that I favor more immigration but with a preference for young skilled people, against discrimination against gays and same sex marriage partners by large organizations but willing to allow space for individual (what I view as), etc. bigotry. In other words I try to model the change I wish to see in others.

#2 Comment By Aleksei On March 6, 2018 @ 2:08 pm

Given the vitriol being expressed towards traditionalists, I believe we are going to see that those who do this will face a pretty heavy price. Certain career paths will be closed, many of our co-religionists will be harassed, but most difficult will be the empty promises of the peace that will come from compromise and the enticement of material advancement that comes with it. We have not been preparing ourselves to resist this allure and it will ensnare a lot of Christians.

Stalinist Russia this ain’t. Take it from an American Immigrant Anabaptist, a little persecution can be a healthy thing. Maybe discipleship SHOULD carry a bit more of a cost. Maybe Christians SHOULD stand out a bit more from the broader American culture. Maybe having less of the good old Coasting Cultural Christians will be a good thing for both liberal and conservative christians.

Jesus never seemed like much of a white picket fence, 2.5 children church on Sundays kind of guy to me. Then again, he also didn’t seem too focused on sex, so maybe Rod has in mind a more Americanized version.

#3 Comment By Angolo On March 6, 2018 @ 2:19 pm

“Of course he is, he can think can’t he”

And yet, from my perspective as a low-profile conservative at a research university, all the conversations I overhear between Democrats is entirely directed toward identifying and then expressing fellow-feeling. Everything is about “right emotion,” not right reason. It seems to be an irrational compulsion with them, which I have observed, over and over, for the past ten years.

#4 Comment By collin On March 6, 2018 @ 2:25 pm

The neo-evangelical tidal wave from roughly WWII to around 2000 made it look like we really could engage with mainstream culture.

It is probably best to call the realities of the Post-WW2 years a historical outlier and not some of US reality. High national trust The nation in 1946 was both excited and anxious that they survived the Depression and WW2. (Watch Best Year Of Their Lives & It’s Wonderful Life) However, the booming economy of the next 25 years (until 1973/1974) was created by:

1) An incredibly tight labor market from the Depression era Baby Bust and World War 2. (The job growth of the Eisenhower and Obama administration were around 1.2% per year.)
2) And enforced sex discrimination job market that ensured male workers were paid more. (Note the racial discrimination had an impact as well.)
3) The other developed economies were bombed out.

So those years had a great boom but the economy would go through the Inflationary Recession of 1974 – 1982 caused by:
1) Climbing commodity prices led by foreign oil
2) An explosion of labor supply without lower real wages. (Boomers coming of age.)
3) The Post WW2 did not have a lot of Supply side growth and the Carter/Reagan deregulation was needed. (Today we need more local deregulation.)
4) Reagan updated the tax code to more reasonable levels.
5) Improved foreign manufacturing. You don’t have the lowering 1980s inflation without Japan small car sales.

#5 Comment By Axxr On March 6, 2018 @ 2:26 pm

I’ve posted here on and off, but I’ll say that I am a former professor that taught for years at a major private university on the east coast and has a Ph.D. from a similar institution.

I was a life-long self-described leftist until perhaps decade ago, when I began to feel uncomfortable with the “all things as praxis” positions of fellow faculty, and the ways in which this crept into teaching, research, and community engagement.

I no longer consider myself a leftist, nor do I consider myself a conservative convert. Instead, I consider myself (in keeping with your recent posts, Rod) a citizen in exile in a land in which citizenship has been banned.

I left my post and academics in general several years ago now. This was not about political positions or about persecution that I experienced for them, but rather about a principled discomfort and disillusionment with trends in the academic world in general. I had begun to have experiences in peer review, accreditation review, and faculty collaboration in which it was clear to me that empiricism was dead and what mattered were relative ideological positions and posturing.

I saw the increasingly taken-for-granted “all life as praxis” presumption (read: research ought to be political activism; teaching ought to be political activism; mentorship ought to be political activism; scholarship ought to be political activism; parenthood ought to be political activism; etc.) to be a betrayal of the best traditions both of the Humboldtian university and of the institutions that preceded it in western history.

Now I work in a small company in the broader economy doing something quite divorced from my academic background and previous work. I have no party to vote for and am generally allergic to “activism” in all its forms.

I regret that the “activist” has overtaken the “citizen” as the basic unit of public membership in virtually every sphere, and I think that this will ultimately lead us to civilizational ruin, as societies function only when they are solidary, deliberative, cooperative, and voluntaristic things, and activism runs precisely counter to all of these.

Most importantly, I see along with the collapse of trust in our institutions a collapse of collective identity and narrative memory on every front and at every level. What is a university? What is a corporation? What is a family? What is a church? What is the nature of our civilization?

It’s not even that there are disagreements about these things any longer so much as that on both sides these questions are considered wrongheaded for differing ideological reasons, particularly amongst elites. But if we cannot answer them, then none of these things will remain.

And if we lose these things and replace them with nothing in particular, then we are left with what Deneen writes about. But Deneen didn’t go far enough; it’s not individual and state, as the state is also increasingly discredited and seen to be ideological false consciousness as a “theoretical” matter, particularly in fields that ought to be concerned precisely with society and statecraft. No, it’s individual and disembodied, ascendant, ever-emergent power, undefined, without telos, without geography, without identity, and without any particular purpose.

Life as will to power, bare and barren.

The universities, such as they are (the term is nearly empty these days, meaning everything and nothing at once) are full participants in, and embracers of, this state of affairs. The purpose of existence (and of academics, and of religion, and of politics, etc.) is negation and ascendance for their own sakes. Nihilism as dogma.

My conscience gave me pangs for several years, and then suddenly I couldn’t do it any longer. Some former colleagues have imagined that I was a closeted conservative that secretly seethed. The truth is harder for all but a couple of them to understand—I was a closeted empiricist and mere citizen, rather than an activist in a place that could make neither heads nor tails of either empiricism or citizenship, which any longer increasingly lie beyond the professoriate’s imagination beyond a few enclaves in STEM, not to mention being beyond the imaginations of those in the administrative class.

In other terms, I felt complicit in something terrible and nihilistic, and—seeing no particular way to further participate in good faith without reifying precisely that which troubled me, and living life as a parent as well—I dropped finally dropped out and left the sphere of “elites” behind to tend my own garden. I am buoyed by the appearance of movements like Heterodox Academy, but they are not sufficient to entice me to want to participate once again.

I don’t know if there are others like me, but I suspect that there must be at least a few.

#6 Comment By Beowulf On March 6, 2018 @ 2:27 pm

This is good for people outside the academy to hear. The situation sounds a little more extreme than at my R1, but individual results may vary.

I find it undeniably that there is less and less toleration for Christian and/or conservative views in academia. I have witnessed significant changes just in the past three years. The use of social media by professors to expose graduate students and avoid them for research is talked about often.

Sure, it is not as bad as Stalin, but that is a pretty low bar. It is bad. And I do not think a movement to exclude Christians from the universities is anything to laugh off. What happens when Christians are completely outside the elite political, educational, etc institutions and circles? Nothing good, nothing good at all.

If serious persecution and purges occur (beyond the soft economic persecution and purges we already experience) excluding Christians from the ranks of the elites will happen first. It is time to make a fuss and fight back. Don’t wait until the soft purges of universities are complete.

What I came away with from this post is that open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.

#7 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 6, 2018 @ 2:41 pm

Speak up people. It will have an impact like a bucket of water being thrown on the Wicked Witch of the West. These cretins think everyone in the whole world agrees with them. When they find what a tiny minority they really are, they will wilt. But someone has to speak up. And don’t leave it to the alt-right to do so.

#8 Comment By Reader John On March 6, 2018 @ 2:57 pm

[1]: Everything you say is true. But it’s also true that “absent in the body, present with the Lord,” yet we’re not allowed to kill ourselves or invite others to do so (and I think even Anabaptists allow self-defense, right?). In other words, it’s legitimate to lament the turning of a tide that will (a) expose Christians’ fair-weather friends (good) and (b) encourage our children to apostatize or just drift away.

#9 Comment By Pogonip On March 6, 2018 @ 2:59 pm

Hello college professors!

Do you think things will settle down once Trump has left office?

#10 Comment By Hal On March 6, 2018 @ 3:14 pm

In 2008, I was in Cincinnati, interviewing to join a graduate program in a life science field. After a day of interviews and meetings, all of the candidates were taken out to dinner by the faculty and other students.

Ohio was on the cusp of its Presidential primary, so of course this was a subject on people’s minds. The professor sitting across the table from me made it absolutely clear she was a Hillary supporter and could not fathom why anyone would vote otherwise. I’d stayed silent through this part of the conversation, so she eventually asked me who I was voting for in the primary.

I generally abstain from discussing politics with people I’ve just met, especially when their feelings on such matters are both strong and made very evident. She refused to accept this as an answer, however, and when I wouldn’t answer her question, well . . . she proceeded to ignore me the remainder of the evening.

I didn’t end up getting into that program. I’m not so egotistical as to think that I was a star candidate torpedoed by politics, but I think it’d be naive to think that played no role in the outcome, either.

#11 Comment By Coverdale On March 6, 2018 @ 3:38 pm

You will find no one more sympathetic to these arguments than me — a former academic who has also left because of disgust with the fragmentation of the multiversity. You can read my thoughts here as the featured prof [2] among other RD posts.

But I’d like to push back slightly against the two professors’ comments. I’ll use my own institution, the University of Kansas, where I did my PhD and now work a (very) minor administrative role, as an example. I don’t hold it out to represent all schools, but it’s a good example.

KU is not quite a prominent national university (basketball aside) but is a major regional research university. We just finished in the top rankings for Fulbright scholars, and our faculty boasts some very prominent names. We have seen the same sort of campus activism as most schools these last few years. The big hubbub in the last couple years was when a group broke off from Student Senate and formed a “Multicultural Student Government” (whites not allowed to join) and called for the ouster of our (black, female) chancellor for being lackluster on the usual race, class, etc. issues. (Hilariously, the MSG just ousted its own president for being insufficiently radical, but did so in violation of its own constitution.) And of course there are all the usual trans groups and no-platforming and all that. We are not unique in this regard.

But it’s not widespread in the sense you get from reading comments like these from professors. It’s largely confined to the ______ Studies departments, which are more or less a joke on campus. KU has devoted most of its money, buildings, resources, and attention for the last decade on engineering, medicine, and business, and none of those schools have any of this nonsense. What’s more, the faculty and staff and students in these more professionally focused schools usually just roll their eyes at their activist colleagues and then go back to doing actual useful things.

I know that the people in the ______ Studies departments go on to set the tone in elite circles. (I know this because I did my PhD in a ______ Studies field.) And yes, the “life as praxis” attitude is constant and always irritating and often stifling. But it’s not universal; much of campus life goes on unfettered by this nonsense. In the School of Engineering, where I work, the student population is very diverse, the faculty do useful things, and the staff help with all of it, and there really is a notion of solidarity and common purpose.

I’m not saying this is a salve, nor that KU should be held up as representative of all. But let’s be careful that we’re not straying into logical fallacy territory. Let’s not always think that civilization is disintegrating just because we tend to project stability backwards (I’m the worst offender here.) Let’s not pretend that a few rabble-rousers represent all students, or that there aren’t really good things happening at some schools. By and large most students throughout the country just keep their heads down and try to get their money’s worth. Those students have left most of the liberal arts departments, which is very sad, but which was also self-inflicted.

The hardest thing I have to remind myself of every day is that change is the only constant and that we like to imagine the past as far more stable than it was. The water crisis in the West is not driven by climate change, but by an unusually wet period during which water and development laws were set. Universities have taken different forms during most eras in the last few centuries of existence. Presidents are often corrupt and incompetent during the administration but seem stable and decent in hindsight.

If we really profess to be people who focus on eternity, then let’s take the long view. This or that trans activist group is a blip in the history of higher education. Same with Trump. Let’s read more history books and tune out the internet. (Seriously. Close your social media accounts and you’ll be stunned at how much calmer the world seems.) More than anything else, remember that there are fanatics in every age and most are quickly forgotten. Civilization is not collapsing; it is evolving into something that looks different. This happens every day. Change is the norm.

#12 Comment By sjb On March 6, 2018 @ 3:41 pm

Anonymous Professor: “We have not been preparing ourselves to resist this allure and it will ensnare a lot of Christians.”

While a lack of preparation is too true, I think there are also more and more who are preparing. One of my life-long favorite subjects has been history and the stories of the saints under communist rule, the confessing church under the Nazi, and so forth have always fascinated me. Lately, my interest has turned more and more towards the persecuted church in current events.

Our fellow Christians from around the globe have much to offer us. For example, I saw an interview of the Coptic Archbishop Angaelos by Raymond Arroyo about our Coptic brethren in the Middle East. One of the things he said that stuck with me was that they saw themselves not as victims, but as witnesses and how they forgive those who murder them and their loved ones. Am I ready for that? Hardly. Please watch the whole interview:

EWTN Interview Coptic Archbishop Angaelos
[3]

Another example comes from our Chinese brethren. I read the latest on their story this morning and I hit overload. It’s beyond my ability to fully take in. My prayers for them so feeble. Please read the excerpt and the full story at the link below.

Am I prepared? The hardest thing I have to face right now is to try to resist the temptation to castrate Pope Francis and the Vatican with my words. And I’m not Roman Catholic. Truly, the churches in the West are still on easy street. Nevertheless, things are heading our way. Kyrie Eleison.

Excerpt:

Under the new regulations on religious activities, proposed last September and implemented last February 1st, worship can only be carried out in church, at the times set by the government. Any other place is considered an “illegal place” and those who break such regulations will be subject to prison, fines, expropriation of the building that houses illegal religious activity. Even private homes are now considered an “illegal place of worship”: in every private house religious conversation or prayer is forbidden, under threat of arrest. The faithful can pray only in church, during Sunday service.

All churches must display a sign at their entrance announcing that the building is “forbidden to minors under the age of 18” must be exposed because children and young people are prohibited from participating in religious rites.

It should be noted that the churches mentioned are not illegal buildings, but officially registered churches. The point is that “sinicization” implies submission to the Chinese Communist Party, which must act as an “active guide” of religions, on which their life or death, every construction and every destruction, depends.

The Vatican bows and China gives thanks. Here’s how – Settimo Cielo – Blog – L’Espresso [4]

#13 Comment By March Hare On March 6, 2018 @ 3:44 pm

Could we be a little honest about the photo? Wasn’t this woman fired?

For what it’s worth, I work in a deep blue-state bureaucracy, and with the exception of annual, on-line “diversity training” (roughly the equivalent of mandatory chapel in the 1960s, only less effective) the invaders have NOT taken over the castle. They aren’t even at the walls.

Breathe, people, breathe. This is not an air raid. It’s an annoying bunch of house flies.

#14 Comment By Seoulite On March 6, 2018 @ 4:40 pm

Yes these guys need to speak up. There is danger in doing it and not doing it, because even if you retire to tend your own garden, one day the Red Guards will appear at your mountain retreat.

Jordan Peterson took that risk, and he is now one of the most powerful public intellectuals in the West. We need a thousand others like him.

#15 Comment By Dave On March 6, 2018 @ 5:05 pm

Although younger and no longer in academia, I agree generally with what the professor is describing here. The worst part I think for me was the assumption that I’d share all the same thoughts and feelings. It was taken for granted that I’d agree on all the “hot button” issues. Unfortunatley, being someone who is more “old school” liberal (read: not a progressive) who actually believes in things like free speach and equality among people as reasonable and virtuous is not looked on favorably by your colleagues. It certainly got worse right after Trump’s election, though I can’t say how it is now I’d venture academia is still sliding down that slippery slope. I remember a number of “good natured” jokes and comments about conservatives from academics while I was pursuing my degrees, but it had become toxic vitriol after Trump became president. Formerly good natured, reasonable people that I admired (and still do professionally) fell off a ledge and some of them have just continued falling and screaming as loud as they can all the way down.

That said, there are two things that give me hope. First is that not everyone who went crazy stayed crazy. A few actually went out and did some research, reading new authors and trying to understand the phenomena. I don’t know how well it worked, but at least they’re no longer outwardly vilifying half of the country. My other hope will likely sound a bit off, but it is the generation of kids and teens growing up right now. My hope is that they’ll see how toxic this state of affairs is to their formation and we can have a serious backlash against the excesses of progressivism. Historically these things are cyclic, so my hope is that this part of the cycle concludes sooner rather than later.

#16 Comment By Autreck On March 6, 2018 @ 5:31 pm

“The lack of common apolitical space makes it difficult for us”

Could not agree more. When they say ‘the personal is political’, what they mean is ‘everything is political. All the time.’

Every time formerly apolitical space falls for the urge to become activist, we all lose something. We need a break from politics because no-one can exist in that state of outrage 24/7 without being fundamentally transformed, like our society is being fundamentally transformed.

I’ve tried discussing this with progressives online, and never gotten anywhere. Everything is political to them and to see something as otherwise is to betray a group of people somewhere.

#17 Comment By blackhorse On March 6, 2018 @ 5:45 pm

A couple of things: “republican/conservative bashing has shifted” How about the disaster that was #44, the GOPs curt refusal to work with centrist #44 and indefensible #45?

Second, I was involved in academe (social sciences) through the mid-90s in the MW and East. Religion was never an issue. MMV in (1 sci/tech depts and 2) for fundamentalists, who reject contemporary biblical scholarship.

#18 Comment By Donald On March 6, 2018 @ 6:19 pm

The liberal professors who discriminate against conservative students should be called out by name, if the evidence is there. In some specific situations ( like Israel- Palestine) I suspect it is college bureaucrats supporting snowflake students who don’t want to hear Israel criticized. I bring that up to suggest that depending on circumstance the villains aren’t necessarily lefties.

But that said, I don’t doubt that some lefty professors might be mini Stalinists. So call them out by name. Lately, Rod, you seem to take an almost willfully pessimistic view of things but I am a lefty and I am certain most of the liberals I know in real life would be disgusted by a professor discriminating against conservative students. But these things have to be screamed about and publicized or it simply won’t be noticed when most liberals are focused on Trump. If you assume everyone in the left is indifferent to the abuses of our side, as opposed to ignorant, then you are doing a bit of demonizing too.

I am going to anticipate a possible response, which is that if lefties were sincere they would already know about these things. But most humans don’t work that way. You pretty much have to rub our noses in it to get us to notice the sins of our own side. But decent people can be reached, though maybe with some difficulty.

#19 Comment By Jeff R On March 6, 2018 @ 6:29 pm

Great picture. Melissa Click is really some kind of archetypal figure for the 201X’s. A credentialed, self-righteous, self-assured buffoon urging others to commit acts of violence on behalf of a group of overgrown children staging a sit in to protest nothing in particular but who most likely viewed her as part of the problem, anyway, and wanted nothing to do with her.

#20 Comment By Jane Kerber On March 6, 2018 @ 8:09 pm

This is for Axxr,

I read an implied question into your post, in the form of, “Is there anyone out there like me?” That would be a reasonable question to ask, because I ask it almost daily, myself.

I’m an attorney. I have an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance. I have decades of business experience on difficult turf. My undergraduate degree is in chemistry–so I understand an empirical orientation. I’ve graduated from top institutions. I find formal analysis and rigorous thinking comforting.

I tried to establish an academic relationship with a nearby university when I began to wind down my work in a particularly demanding area of business. I established relations with three different departments over time, but in each case either an assault of the type that could ruin one’s reputation, or policies that I could not reconcile with my own conscience, forced me to leave. The reasons were impossible to explain to anyone, not because colleagues would disagree with my decision, but because they were no longer in possession of the vocabulary they would need to understand them.

Like you, I am not a crusader. Like you, Heterodox Academy just doesn’t do it for me. I read nearly every publication, left, right and center, that features the writing of people who have been gifted with superior intellect (or at least the ability to write better than most), I triangulate the narratives of every major global development, and read or scan nearly every non-fiction book that comes out in print in order to understand what is going on in our culture, national politics, foreign policy, classical thought, and totalitarian systems and those who stand up to them. And, with all that, with reading what so many people have to say, the answer to “Is there anyone out there like me?” is still, “No.”

The reasons for being unable to find a kindred spirit (apart from one’s spouse, in my case), will differ for each of us. But it isn’t the reasons that matter, it’s the result. There’s a limit to how much gardening, as you put it, one can do. You are accustomed to empirical thinking at its best in the same way that I am accustomed to the formal, adversarial approach to communication that characterizes the legal profession. It not only forces us to be rigorous in our thinking, it creates an unspoken camaraderie. But now, it is a world in denial, and I have never found a substitute for it–not in a crowd, not among today’s new financial or intellectual elite, not in any local community. If anything, it is disorienting, alienating, to attempt to talk too much. “Can’t you see what I see?” They either don’t, and think there is something wrong with me, or they become terrified if I speak without censoring myself, or the distance between the way they think and the way I think, in turn, terrifies me. It is very much about raw power, as you say, but no one is conditioned to see it that way.

You have mentioned Deneen and churches, but not any particular religious orientation that you might have. For Christians, Rod has a grasp on how bad things can get and is trying to make others aware of it. I applaud his efforts, especially with his most recent posts. How many readers here have a faith that will enable them to persevere, especially if they are young, I don’t know. He writes about the need for these Christians to build a community or a network, and it is true, that people need that, but I don’t fit easily into pre-determined belief systems, so that isn’t an option for me. I am prepared to follow Jesus Christ at all cost and, should it come to that, where my own faith would fail, I trust that He will pick me up and carry me the rest of the way home. The testimony of my life is that He has never let me fall.

I know it sounds parochial, but I have no other way to say it–if you do not already, you should read the Bible as though your life depended on it. Don’t read it through anyone else’s analytical lens. Put the intellectual critiques and the assumption that faith is for the naive aside. Those arguments are flawed, and often made in bad faith. Study the text for yourself. I return to your statement that what we have now is about power–it is. But one of the most dangerous deceptions is the denial of what those with real power know, that this conflict is, ultimately, a spiritual one, and that it is not primarily our society, but the eternal fate of each one of us, that is at stake. The greatest tragedy of all is that so many have been made to believe that this dimension does not exist. For me, it is not a Catholic truth, or a Protestant one, or an Evangelical one. It is a truth that we find on our own, through prayer, revealed by God Himself when we search for Him, in a way that no human being can communicate to another. At the very least, it is important that each one of us makes a deliberate decision about what we believe after considering the possibility that, as the Bible itself says, the truth is a pearl of great price, with which nothing can compare.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 6, 2018 @ 8:16 pm

Although I have come to recognize that Leninist party organization is a failure on its own terms, and that intractable though the power of amassed capital may be, a classic revolutionary uprising will not effectively deliver us from its grasp… nonetheless, I thank God that my years as a near-Bolshevik gave me a healthy disdain for the campus “left” crowd. Its been a great help in dealing with the nonsense as it reaches its inchoate crest and begins to crash. One the one hand, they fit the classical contours of the social-democrats that orthodox communists have always denounced. On the other hand, at least I had real work to do in real suffering communities that were my home, and I know these whining brats are scared to death to set foot in areas where people are really suffering. Thus, they create their own faux “oppression” in their debt-funded nirvanas.

#22 Comment By RR On March 6, 2018 @ 9:11 pm

I’m a faculty member at a community college located in a red state and in a county that went nearly 70% for Trump in 2016. The student newspaper did polls of the student body in 2016. The results showed that students either liked Trump or Sanders. Very few favored Clinton. I noticed several of my students openly wore pro-Trump hats and t-shirts in 2016. One of my students wore a “Trump 2020” shirt to class the other day.

While our faculty, and I include myself in this, is certainly not pro-Trump, it is more politically, ideologically and religious diverse than at the R1 described in this post. And given the student body, faculty members who are to the left know better than to treat students who don’t toe their party line like pariahs. From my experiences at an R1 in graduate school during the early years of the Iraq war and the 2004 election, I don’t doubt the experiences of the “Anonymous Professor.” However, as important as R1s are, they are not the totality of higher education. Approximately 40% of undergraduates in America attend community colleges, which in many cases provide quality general education class at a much more affordable price. I have no illusions that all community colleges are like mine, although many in more conservative communities probably are. And many students and faculty at community college are too busy to involve themselves in politics in any case. Community colleges have their problems. But the political situation at many community colleges is something for conservative Christians, either as prospective students or future faculty members, to consider.

Finally, I’ve always thought that truly diverse viewpoints among the faculty is what serves an institution of higher education well in terms of academic rigor and the overall intellectual environment. As much as it pains me to say this, the R1s that forgo this approach and become hothouses of left wing intolerance should have their budgets slashed if they are state schools and federal grant money shut off if they are private schools. Either serve the public good or fund your political activism on something other than the taxpayers’ dime.

#23 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 6, 2018 @ 9:45 pm

“Speak up people.”

For the life of me, I can’t find any who will who aren’t economically and socially invulnerable. Who doesn’t need an income or a place to live, things that can be taken away from the ordinary American in a two moment hate of doxxing?

” Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity”

I think others regard those of us purged, as cautionary tales, doxxed into penury as an fearfully accepted example “pour les autres.”

#24 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 6, 2018 @ 9:51 pm

Re-seeing the title picture, I can’t help thinking we are a “Click” away from being abolished as a people with the elect choosing a new one. She was even a journalism professor, while threatening journalists who dared cover the event.

#25 Comment By UD Dan B On March 6, 2018 @ 11:17 pm

“I saw the increasingly taken-for-granted “all life as praxis” presumption (read: research ought to be political activism; teaching ought to be political activism; mentorship ought to be political activism; scholarship ought to be political activism; parenthood ought to be political activism; etc.) to be a betrayal of the best traditions both of the Humboldtian university and of the institutions that preceded it in western history.”

This gets to the heart of something that has been bothering me for a while. What a dreary world it would be (is) if EVERYTHING must be viewed through the lens of politics. I don’t say this as a liberal or conservative who is bothered by political analyses I don’t agree with (I lean to the left, and most of the political views I see in reviews of movies, TV shows, books etc. I actually agree with in the abstract).

Its just the whole political commissar aspect of it that bothers me. If I were a conservative Christian living in a country where conservative Christianity dominated media, I would be just as bothered if every non-political piece of literature and entertainment were obsessively deconstructed for support (good review!) or criticism (bad review!) of the ruling Christian ideology.

In short, I’m fine with a world where art, literature, entertainment, etc. could be political. I hate a world where all of those things should be (or even worst, must be) political.

#26 Comment By Gabriel Ewing On March 6, 2018 @ 11:20 pm

@Axxr

The insight that activist has overtaken citizen as a basic building block of citizenship is profound. I’ve been (non-professionally) exploring the question of what is citizenship recently, surveying mostly upperclassman college volunteers I would coordinate, as well as a few 20 somethings.

I think both activism and citizenship is important, but we have been oversold on the successes of activism (which are important!) and neglected the more constructive side of citizenship.

I’ve had pretty good results when I talk to both college students and administrators about all the hats a university wears, what it means for a university to pursue its various missions with integrity, stresses upon the institution. Various shades of “What does it mean to be a university?” have been enlightening.

Generally I don’t find activism to be destined to forever overshadow citizenship, even within the current American experiment. People have to be willing to talk about these things constructively. At the individual level, just means you have to have enough leadership and courage to start the conversations. They are often well received, and a blessing on all parties.

When I was interviewing some of my participants many interviews ran very long. They said “I’ve never thought about this before,” and gave me thanks.

#27 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 6, 2018 @ 11:37 pm

Jane Kerber, thanks for that. Even though it’s hard to believe these opinions are actually those of an attorney… somewhere. It seems a real Perry Mason exists after all.

#28 Comment By Seoulite On March 7, 2018 @ 1:26 am

“In short, I’m fine with a world where art, literature, entertainment, etc. could be political. I hate a world where all of those things should be (or even worst, must be) political.”

One of the axioms of feminism is that the personal is political. That means everything everyone thinks says and does has political significance, and must be treated as such. So now everything is problematic and the right people must fix it according to their dictates and grievances. The totalitarianism of feelz.

And I bet you thought feminism was about giving women the vote and getting them out of the kitchen, silly billy!

In seriousness though, there is a cogent analysis to be made that feminism is partly responsible for the incredible weakening of Western society, but we’ll never have that conversation because anyone who thinks that is just a basement dwelling nerd who’s mad cuz he can’t get laid, right?

#29 Comment By Elijah On March 7, 2018 @ 7:39 am

“Deliver us from activists” ought to be part of our daily prayers.

#30 Comment By Roger On March 7, 2018 @ 7:42 am

I’m a right-leaning (though not Trumpist) professor in a Midwest state university, and am partially closeted. Those few colleagues with whom I am on close terms know of my views and my religious affiliation, but they don’t make an issue of it. Along the hall of faculty offices in the building housing my department, more than half the doors are adorned with notices and posters loudly proclaiming political and social opinions (including, of course, the obligatory rainbow sticker announcing that the office is a “safe zone” for sexual minorities). My office door sports only a few announcements of scholarship opportunities and other things of professional interest. I know from what students have mentioned that many of my colleagues do not limit their political soapbox speeches to their office doors. So I know I’m very much in the minority.
But I don’t feel inclined to argue with colleagues. My reasons are not just cowardice; I have to work with these people whether I like it or not, and I would only shoot myself in the foot if I antagonize them. But even more than that, their issues–their “causes”–strike me as petty and frankly very boring, and don’t really engage my interest. They have revealed themselves as unable to think beyond the latest bandwagon, they have only “outed” themselves as faceless members of the “herds of independent thinkers” that infest the modern academy. I know exactly what their trite knee-jerk reactions would be to my ideas, so why bother? Besides, I’m close to retirement, and find myself caring less than every about the intellectual cesspool I’ll be leaving behind.

#31 Comment By Flagg Taylor On March 7, 2018 @ 9:07 am

Completely agree on the activist as citizenship stuff! I wrote about this right after the Middlebury/Charles Murray debacle. See here:

[5]

#32 Comment By Damian On March 7, 2018 @ 9:09 am

I posted a comment yesterday and apparently, it wasn’t approved by your moderators.

[NFR: Because you are personally insulting people here, calling someone a “coward” for not standing up publicly in a position of risk. Amusingly, I note that you won’t even use your real name. Go away, troll. — RD]

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 7, 2018 @ 10:08 pm

For the life of me, I can’t find any who will who aren’t economically and socially invulnerable.

Fran, please re-read that classic poem, “The Hangman.” If someone doesn’t have the courage to speak up, then there won’t ever be a majority standing with them. Mark Twain wrote that no more than one in ten in any mob wants to be there — but each one thinks everyone else is all for it.

Could we be a little honest about the photo? Wasn’t this woman fired?

According to a personal blog well to the right of TAC, which I enjoy dropping in on because the administrator is a fellow Cubs fan, Click was hired by another university, which issued a pro forma announcement describing her as the best qualified candidate they interviewed.

#34 Comment By Professor D On March 7, 2018 @ 11:56 pm

The experiences of “Anonymous Professor” are not atypical. I did my post-doc at Duke in the mid- to late-90s. I was part of a very large lab group and was not shy about my conservative philosophy. While it shocked some and bewildered others, for the most part, disagreements were civil. Only on one occasion, when my liberal-leaning post-doc advisor invited me to tell a Clinton-Lewinsky joke (I obliged) at the height of that scandal, did I have another faculty member tell our group she would never again work with me.

My time at Duke also encompassed the Alan Sokal affair. Sokal, an NYU physicist, published a nonsensical paper in Social Text, a postmodern journal published by the Duke University Press which was, in turn, overseen by postmodern champion and then Duke English professor, Stanley Fish. The National Association of Scholars chapter at Duke invited Sokal to give at talk on campus after he soon thereafter revealed his article was a hoax. I sat beside those in the audience who were visibly weeping. Though I didn’t ask why, I can only imagine it being over the mockery Sokal had made of postmodern thought.

I am not sanguine that trends in American universities will be changing anytime soon. But perhaps the reference “Axxr” has made to STEM disciplines is worthy of further note and a glimmer of hope. As Alan Sokal displayed, there appears to exist a limit to tolerance of leftist inanity. Otherwise, these disciplines and their practitioners face existential threats.

Christian conservatives are fellow truth-seekers with those in STEM fields. May they find kindred spirits with one another.

#35 Comment By ML On April 18, 2018 @ 3:25 pm

There’s a little truth and a little paranoia here.
Truth: as Americans dig further and further into our opinion bubbles, our left-wing enclaves are more left and our right-wing enclaves are more right. So its harder to be a conservative in the Harvard English Department than it was in 1955. But on the other hand, I suspect its equally true that its harder to be a liberal in most evangelical churches (or any church in rural Red America) than it was in 1955.

What’s nuts: the “leftists have taken over the culture” story is a bit much. The far Left controls a few departments in some universities- but most Americans don’t go to those universities or take a lot of classes in the most leftist departments. The media is a mix, but the most popular TV network is Trump-worshipping (Fox). Movies and fictional TV, to the limited extent they matter are a mixed bag, generally leaning left on race on gender, but usually pro-police and pro-military. And of course the entire political system is owned by the Republican Party through fair means (the Democrats’ inability to connect with rural voters) and foul (voter suppression, gerrymandering).